2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4, no 5 stars,
This review is from: My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You (Paperback)
No messing about
From Chapter 1 the characters we are to follow for the next 402 pages are rapidly established.
Our story begins in 1907 - ( remember the era of the Bastable children? - E Nesbit)
Soon war will begin to flicker through Europe, and is about to plunge a third of the world into darkness.
But for now there is the calm and growth in the lives of 2 children growing up in London.
As they develop so the story builds ...
And maybe this is a big part of the simple power that Louisa Young exhibits -the story unfolds at a steady pace that draws us deep into the worlds of Riley and Nadine.
Louisa Young shows great technical ability, and yet there is much more.
The commentary lying underneath is always present - social, sexual and scientific.
She understands the creative life of an artist - a musician - a writer.
And she reveals humanity rather than perfection.
And it becomes clear that this is not writing for the satisfaction of a task beautifully performed - a grander design runs through; the minute Riley commits himself to his timeless future we are ready to go with him into the darkness - hoping against hope he will be one of the precious few to be saved.
His energy brings light to the tale, and the sheer liveliness of him warms us enough for us to want to put aside for him those obstacles of class and fortune at the time this story is set.
So we find Louisa Young is a historian as well as a story teller.
She understands the prevailing beliefs and values from 100 years ago.
And truths such as " they all - your fathers , uncles, brothers, grandparents on returning never spoke of it again (the war)- yet some of them must have been dying to surely!" show the authenticity that lends this work such compulsion
Little touches such as her painting of Julia - only a minor character -yet leaping off the page with her vast distance from a bullying mother, her situation silencing her to the frustration of her own life and yes, even illness to herself ring as true the chimes of Big Ben in a London fog.
And her sister-in- law - Rose, described as `unlikely to marry' yet superbly practical, grounded and accomplished - one of the truly strong and anchoring presences that gives the story solidity.
I found the broad reach of the narrative virtually Dickensian - yet Dickens can be known too for his light touch and humour.
And as the brushing of light and shade keeps us focussed, unconsciously perhaps, we understand that here is an author that we can trust - she may shock, and she may challenge -but she will keep us set to the task ahead - in the same way as her diverse cast set to their own tasks -even while facing their own sometimes grisly facts.
All the tributes on the covers and the flyleaf tell us - Read this book,
There is something for you - it will play on your emotions and it may refresh you.
And it is an example of old fashioned story telling where both the reader and the writer have become absorbed in a story, which based on fact, virtually tells itself.
4, no - 5 stars.